Killing off characters

I recently saw a stage version of ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ by Michelle Magorian with my grandson, aged eight. A¬†favourite novel which I read when it was published in 1981 so I had remembered that some of the story is bleak, including unpleasant revelations for a child his age. However I knew that the problems were resolved to bring about a happy ending.

My grandson was riveted for the entire performance especially laughing at the larger-than-life character, Zach, William Beech’s fellow evacuee. But I had forgotten that he is ‘killed off’ towards the end of the play leaving William and the other characters, as well as, we, the audience, to cope with the grief of his demise.

I cannot say that it ruined the play for my grandson, but it certainly took away all the jollity; here was another of life’s hard lessons.

Death is inevitable for all creatures, but will always be incomprehensible whether natural or otherwise. The most dramatic and extraordinary moment for us all. And as all stories centre around the extraordinary events of life, not the mundane, few novels escape without the death of one of the characters.

Drama is what novelists are all about. Of the four novels I’ve published all involve the death of at least one character, unnaturally. And all have been necessary!

In my latest project, ‘The Greenhouse’ – a working title – the problem I’m trying to solve is who killed my victim and how. And more importantly who knew?


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